Every student's hand was raised in the air. Some were waving, others were hopping in their seats. You could feel the excitement in the room. We were talking about their world. This wasn't stuff found in old textbooks. This was their life, their understanding, their experiences, and boy was it obvious. What caused such a zap of energy into my small class? A lesson on private and personal information on the web.
We began by discussing websites that they knew required information in order to use them. It was amazing the list they came up with. It was very apparent that most students had access to the internet at home, and have spent enough time online to know all too well that almost every site you now visit asks you to register.
We took out the ipads and opened up www.bookadventure.com. This is a simple site geared towards kids all about about reading. We began to take a close look at the type of information these sites ask for. I asked the students to pay close attention to what information was required and what information was optional. Then a heated discussion started about why each was marked accordingly. The ideas were flowing, and I was greatly impressed by the way the students built on each other's thoughts.
I then passed out a list of information that students might offer up. This list ranged from their favorite band to their social security number. I gave them a few minutes to mark each item as private information, details that you shouldn't ever reveal online, or personal information, details about you that are okay to share with people you know. We then dug in and began to share our thoughts and reasons for why each was marked the way it was. We discussed in great detail what it meant for someone to steal your identity or to know too much about you.
The kids were impassioned, engaged, and on the edge of their seat. But above all else, I think that they really learned something. I could hear them as we lined up for lunch discussing how they were never going to give out their last name again. Lesson successful!